General News of Wednesday, 20 December 2017
Property rental for Ghanaian Missions abroad cost the Foreign Affairs Ministry an estimated GHC62m, or approximately US$14m in 2017, a report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs has revealed.
The amount covers rent payment for Ghanaian Missions in 52 cities across the world, comprising Africa, America, East Europe, Asia and Europe.
Parliamentarians who were not amused by the colossal sums called on the ministry to consider acquiring permanent properties in some of the cities involved.
Parliament has meanwhile approved GH?456m for the ministry and its departments and agencies for implementation of their planned activities for the 2018 fiscal year.
In Africa, for instance, the report indicates the ministry paid US$393,000 as rent in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, making it the most expensive rent payment among the 23 regional African cities that house Ghanaian Missions.
Also, in the Americas, Washington was the most expensive – costing the ministry US$514,000 whereas in Eastern Europe and Asia, Beijing was the most expensive, costing the ministry US$484,584.
Additionally, in Europe the Foreign Affairs Ministry had to pay US$1.4m as rent for its Mission in Geneva, Switzerland.
Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu urged the ministry to review the rent and property processes, with a view to acquiring permanent buildings for the Missions.
The report nonetheless indicates that the ministry informed Committee members it intends renovating a number of properties in some selected Missions, while it intends acquiring new properties at other locations.
A total of 31 Missions are scheduled for this exercise, and the Committee has appealed for the Finance Ministry to release the budget to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enable it to complete the important exercise on time.
The report also captured that the ministry had sent proposals to the Ministry of Finance to increase passport application fees from GH?50 to GH?100 for ordinary passport processing.
The fees, which form part of the Internally Generated Funds(IGF) of the ministry, is used to defray part of the processing cost, cost of re-tooling, and for establishment of PACs in all regional capitals in order to ease the acquisition process.